Uyghur Update: August 22nd-1st September

Eid Mubarak! Qurban heytinglargha mubarek bolsun! I’m late! I was doing a medical checkup on the usual day I post (I’m healthy!) and have been playing catch-up at work so that I could also take off today for Eid. Unfortunately the amount of news on Uyghurs just increased exponentially as the days went by 😦 – I suppose “no news is good news” does not apply to Uyghur people though so I guess it’s good that we’re making headlines.


Inside the Uyghur Region

To start off, more photos/screenshots of the crap people have to do to show patriotism in Hotan. And check out this video – in it, a line of Uyghur couples are getting married, and a lady on a microphone is leading some sort of public oath which the couples repeat. Literally: “Partiye hokimitining diginini qilimiz! Partiye hokimetning yolida mangimiz!” – “We will do as the Party (government) says! We will walk on the path of the Party!”

Apparently the nan shops you see so much of are getting closed down in Urumchi. I’m not sure what this means but check it out if you know Chinese? Police spending is up 45% from this time last year, too. And the police now have phones that can scan people’s faces and match them to ID.

Meanwhile, the government in Urumchi is creating an “Integrated Residency project“, where they are giving economic incentives for Uyghurs to move into majority-Han residential areas and vice-versa. I suppose if Han and Uyghurs are going to live in one city forever then it’s good to have them live peacefully… but they’re not really being given a choice, it seems:

“If inhabitants of certain building become dominantly Uyghur, then we’ll disperse those Uyghurs to other buildings, because gathering certain ethnic groups into the same building goes against the policy,”

They’re also making it much easier for Han to move to Urumchi (usually it’s pretty difficult to move to a difference area). And… there’s… a “become relatives” policy?

…He also praised Han Chinese who had been assigned as “relatives” of the area Uyghurs, as well as married couples comprised of Hans from outside of Xinjiang and local Uyghurs, who he said are helping to contribute to the stability of the region.

“Xinjiang is now enjoying ‘ethnic unity’ and the ‘become relatives’ policy,” he said.

“I have personally become the ‘relative’ of a Uyghur and we do many things together, such as playing, eating and killing time. It’s widely accepted now that Han Chinese must have a Uyghur relative and vice versa.”

That sounds like when British colonialists married Aboriginals to “breed out the black“… Perhaps China is taking a page out of their books. The Stolen Generation (which was fairly recent) had a lasting and damaging effect on so many Aboriginal peoples and nations. I understand why some form of “assimilation” is desirable for a harmonious society (like a general culture of letting people have their own culture unless it harms others) but assimilation policies have a history of being incredibly racist, violent, and inhumane. Just because China is covering up their stench with pretty words and arguments for “peace” doesn’t make what they’re doing any less rotten or suspicious.

It’s no longer just Uyghurs though – Kazakh people are being targeted more and more by the strike hard campaign (link provides examples of the new regulations).


Religious Oppression

Freedom House has released a long (but very organised and easy-to-read) report on the lack of religious freedom for Uyghurs. It’s very informative and illuminating so check it out. Amnesty International also released an article that condemns the laws and tightening controls on religious practice.

Another article came out, called “Why Aren’t Uyghur Muslims in China Allowed to go to Hajj?“. The article brings to light some of the atrocities Uyghur prisoners face, which we don’t hear much of in the media. The word “atrocities” is used so much it’s almost lost its meaning, but honestly the way Uyghurs are treated are heinous. The title is a little misleading to those who don’t read the article – a small group of Uyghurs are allowed to go to hajj (after all, China claims we are the happiest Muslims in the world lmfao) but if you thought they were free to worship how they wanted, then you haven’t been paying attention. (The link sheds some light on the Uyghurs that get to go to hajj). Apparently they have been especially tight this year.

In light of Eid, apparently those who went to the mosque had to scan their IDs before entering. And… the Chinese anthem before prayer… (here in Aus and most other parts of the world we say a takbeer multiple times before the prayer… it’s a highly agreed upon sunnah).

But it’s not just Islam and Uyghurs. It’s Christianity in Hong Kong, too. Basically, if you’re someone who opposes the government then your religion will be used against you.


Censorship, Media, Security

It is pretty difficult for journalists to get news from within East Turkestan for a number of reasons, but here’s the Twitter feed of one who was detained while he was trying to interview locals. A more in-depth article about the incident was also written up. He had wanted to write about the Elishku Massacre. The International Federation of Journalists also picked up on the news. lol.

So last week I wrote about the Cambridge University Press fiasco where they retracted “sensitive” publications in China on the government’s request, then put them back up after getting backlash. Another journal published by CUP, Journal of Asian Studies, had also been asked to take down papers. Also:

Meanwhile, Reuters reported on Tuesday that LexisNexis, a US-based company that provides legal, regulatory and business research, on Tuesday named the two products it removed from the Chinese market in March after being asked to do so.

“Earlier this year LexisNexis Business Insight Solutions in China was asked to remove some content from its database,” it said.

“In March 2017, the company withdrew two products (Nexis and LexisNexis Academic) from the Chinese market.”

So it’s Apple (and probably all phone platforms), all of academia, NGO’s… everyone is being controlled and restricted…

A number of articles were written up in response to all the hoo-ha. Here’s an op-ed about why academia should not acquiesce to China’s demands, focusing on how it plays into Xi’s “project”. Another article analysing the sorts of materials that had been banned. More on why book publishers don’t want to publish books on the “three T’s” – Tienanmen, Tibet, Taiwan. There’s also an article about how Chinese censorship affects the West. I think this one summarises all of that the best.

Apparently the Chinese media stated that Western ideals of academic freedom are only a core value because the West is strong, so when China becomes strong, these ideals (I presume) will no longer be core values. That could actually be a pretty interesting philosophical debate – are there certain ideals that are inherent to humanity and universally true, or are these ideals simply created by society, and whichever group has more influence at a time will be able to dictate them? I would like to think that everyone would want to be intellectually free and that the freedom to think should be protected by the state. But I can see how ideals in general can be dictated by the state itself. I think this is a debate on the nature of man which is… for another place and time lol.

But continuing on from before my tangent – here’s an op-ed about the lack of criticism in classrooms in China. China’s tightening the controls on the ideologies of teachers at their top universities. I mean, literally:

A group of China’s top universities have set up Communist Party departments to oversee the political thinking of their teaching staff after the colleges were criticised amid the government’s tightening ideological control on campuses.

Some universities were criticised after the months-long inspections for their weakness in promoting ideology, while party committees were also chastised for weak leadership and failing to toe the party line.

Further into the article there are some interesting tidbits, like:

Universities were ordered four years ago to steer clear of seven topics while teaching, including universal values, press freedom and civil rights.

Outspoken professors who have openly criticised the communist authorities or its leaders have been punished or silenced.

Deng Xiangchao, a communications professor at Shandong Jianzhu University, was forced to retire in January after criticising Mao Zedong publicly on the eve of the anniversary of the late leader’s birth.

Because, you know… you have to be atheist, orthodox marxist, and dogmatically patriotic if you want to live in China. And it’s not just universities – it’s schooling at all levels.

More on China’s war on dissent.

But surveillance and censorship isn’t a new thing, and it is only getting worse with the technology boom, especially with what they’re calling the “digital surveillance state” that China is prepping. You can’t even comment anonymously online starting from October. I mean, yeah, it’d be nice to have less trolls and talk online the way you would in person, but it also means that no one will be able to talk about sensitive government topics without fully exposing who they are and being arrested. No VPNs and no anonymity = no internet freedom, and no freedom of speech (that opposes the government in any way). In conjunction with every other sanction being placed on freedom of expression in China… I mean, you can get arrested for writing a poem AND just being the person who points the poet to a printing shop…

Speaking of technology, we have a Singapore company teaming up with a Chinese one to produce a system that can track tourists by way of a wristband device and allow them to send SOS alerts, tested first in Kanas:

Addvalue has teamed up with China’s Falcon Technology to demonstrate that a satellite communications system connected to the Internet of Things can enhance the security of tourist sites in Kanas, Xinjiang province.

Mainboard-listed Addvalue and Falcon Tech have successfully tested the Kanas Tourism Securities Monitoring Platform System, deployed to monitor the safety of people, including scenic spot administrators, herdsmen and tourists.

The successful trial is expected to lead to mass commercial deployment after the local authorities finalise the implementation plan.

I get how it can be useful to have something like that in a place with no internet and a lot of places to get lost but I can’t help but think of the many ways it can be used for nefarious purposes. Also, why not just have good internet or satellite signal in the area?

The 27th was International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, and rights groups came out to call for answers about the enforced disappearances of those under China, including Chinese, Tibetan, and Uyghurs. In really sad news, one of our own members in the community has gone missing. He is an Australian citizen and had gone to visit. He had called his parents when he landed in Chengu, China on the 22nd and no one (including DFAT and Australian government representatives) has heard from him since. As far as I am aware, the ETAA has reached out to Australian government officials and ministers to locate him but I do not have any other information concerning him. I hope he is okay. 😦



It’s been a while since the OBOR project has been brought up in terms of Uyghurs, but an op-ed was written about how it gives incentive for more persecution by Dolkun Isa. Another article talking about the issue was released by Singapore Management University. Excerpt:

“The government believed economic development to be a good way to secure peace not just with other countries but also restive citizens,” [Chun-Yi Lee, lecturer at the School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Nottingham] says.

“In the 1980s and 1990s the Chinese government started to pour lots of money into Xinjiang because as a border province it was less developed. The government believed that as long as they pour money into Xinjiang that would be resolved. But it’s not so simple.

“The division between Han and non-Han people widened even more with the government pouring money into Xinjiang. The reason was that most of the job opportunities were controlled by the Han people. It actually led to Han consolidating their position, and conversely weakened those of non-Han people. If you wanted to get a decent position, you had to speak and write good Mandarin. In Xinjiang, the Uighur had their own language. It deterred the Uighurs from getting good jobs, especially in the government bureaucracy.”

That has led to Uighur concerns over coerced assimilation at the expense of the own culture, and increasing displacement. Ever tightening controls have stoked fears of a “security state” in the province, making a mockery of the BRI’s aims of invoking the “Silk Road Spirit” of “peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness”.

“So what does government do to address this issue?” Lee asks rhetorically. “They implement ever tighter controls. In all the big malls, there are security checks like those in airports. Also, there is a police station every 500 metres on every major road. The local authorities’ answer for why there are so many police stations is that there are toilets in these buildings, which are open to the public.”


Uyghur Organisations

If you’re in the US and you need help with legal stuff (mainly immigration, etc) then IUHRDF has an “Affirmative Asylum Application Preparation Clinic for Uyghur Students and Low-Income Individuals” thing going on. Click link for more info.

The Uyghur Youth Campaign has started a fundraiser for Uyghur refugees:

This fundraising campaign seeks to aid Uyghur refugees in Asia and the Middle East seeking resettlement to safer countries by raising funds to cover housing, food, medical care, and travel as they register with the UNHCR/apply for refugee visas and await resettlement. 

So if you have the money, please donate!

A conference was hosted by International PEN Uyghur, Tibet, Swedish & Independent Chinese PEN Centers in Malmö, Sweden. Some videos of the event were posted: Finding Room for Common Ground 1 2 Live.

Another conference on the “Independence of the Oppressed Nations: Precursor to the Unity of Mankind, Global Peace and Human Development” was is held in Frankfurt Press Club, attended by Dolkun Isa who talked about East Turkestan.

For anyone in the US in October:


And finally, Zubayra Shamseden is a CWFL 2017-18 Fellow representing Uyghurs in the Institute for Global Engagement. A video of her talking about some of her experiences as an Uyghur was produced for YouTube.


Outside of Politics

There is a new Uyghur publication called “Iz Jurnili” in Turkey. I think it is on Uyghur literature, so I might be interested in getting myself a copy once I figure out how. Anyhow, congrats!

So despite being in science I have no idea how to science in Uyghurche so I didn’t bother reading this exactly, but apparently Uyghur scientist Dr Richat Abbas was heavily involved in the process of creating a drug – Neratinib – which was recently approved by the FDA. The drug is an ErbB receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitor which, when given after adjuvant trastuzumab treatment, can treat early stage HER2-overexpressed/amplified breast cancer through oral ingestion. That’s pretty bloody cool. I found a recent paper on the drug (a phase II trial but you can probably get an idea of it), and here’s a whole list of research he has published – apparently he’s been Director/Clinical Pharmacology Lead at Pfizer Inc for the past 13 years. Awesome! And still publishing. That’s just goals. Big congrats on getting a cancer-treatment drug approved by FDA! We got Uyghurs out here curing cancer, guys. And on the forefront of genetic innovation with Shoukhrat Mitalipov. We out here.

This paper in Uyghurche called “Ottur Asia’gha Leghmen Bilen Tonuluwatqan Uyghur’lar” was published, which roughly translates to: the recognition of Uyghurs throughout Central Asia via leghmen. Leghmen is definitely one of my favourite foods lol. It was written by Aziz Isa Elkun for the Ana Yurt Jurnili (I didn’t know that was a thing! They have 9 issues out already!). But it’s about 59 pages long with footnoted references, fieldwork, interviews and all so I haven’t read it but, like, goals. And at the end (Figure 15) there is just 18 pictures of different types of leghmen and it’s 3:24 am and I am sad in bed.

A really interesting travel journal was published by Uyghur activist Rukiya Turdush. I know I put this in the “outside of politics” section but it’s difficult to disentangle politics from the Uyghur experience in East Turkestan so it’s here as a “personal account”.

This one is in a similar vein. For a while now, a lot of family members living in East Turkestan have been asking those living outside not to call them. My friends and family included. A poignant and personal piece on this situation was published recently, called An Unanswered Telephone Call. It illustrates that it isn’t a recent phenomena – in it, the mother tells her son that she’s been reporting their calls to the police for the past two years. And then:

“…My dear son, over the many years since you left home, I have learned many useful lessons. Now I am learning how to be content in this situation. Every place in the world is given to us by God. The place where you live now is also God-given. I am happy for you. You are safe there and you have beautiful children and a family. If I know you are living peacefully with your family, I won’t worry about you. God bless you …”

A final goodbye. She hasn’t picked up since then.


So my poem seems to have been passed around the Uyghur community… which is… interesting. The feedback has all been positive so far so that’s really nice. And RFA did a little write up on me. Thanks? In the article he explains my poem and I was surprised my thoughts had come across so well. I never know if people actually get what I’m trying to say. Sometimes I don’t even get what I’m trying to say haha. I think RFA wrote it so they can use me as an example of an Uyghur youth using different platforms to speak about Uyghur people (and get other youths to do the stuff lol) so it’s cool. C’mon youth, let’s do things!


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